I’m back today for another author interview with another amazing author! And as usual, before I dive in, I’d like to take a minute to remind you about the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, especially during Pride month. We need to support and elevate the voices of Black people now more than ever. Read, sign, share, donate! It’s no longer okay to be silent.
Today we have one of my most anticipated interviews – the incredible Robin Stevens! I’m not joking when I say I literally lost it when I found out Robin agreed to an interview! She is the author of the fantastic Murder Most Unladylike series, with the final ninth instalment, Death Sets Sail, coming in August! You can pre-order it on Book Depository here!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Robin was born in California and grew up in an Oxford college, across the road from the house where Alice in Wonderland lived. She has been making up stories all her life.
When she was twelve, her father handed her a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and she realised that she wanted to be either Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie when she grew up. When it occurred to her that she was never going to be able to grow her own spectacular walrus moustache, she decided that Agatha Christie was the more achieveable option.
She spent her teenage years at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, reading a lot of murder mysteries and hoping that she’d get the chance to do some detecting herself (she didn’t). She then went to university, where she studied crime fiction, and then worked at a children’s publisher.
ABOUT MURDER MOST UNLADYLIKE
1934. When Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong set up a secret detective agency at Deepdean School for Girls, they struggle to find a truly exciting mystery to investigate. (Unless you count the case of Lavinia’s missing tie. Which they don’t.)
But then Hazel discovers the body of the Science Mistress, Miss Bell – but when she and Daisy return five minutes later, the body has disappeared. Now the girls have to solve a murder, and prove a murder has happened in the first place before the killer strikes again (and before the police can get there first, naturally),
But will they succeed? And can their friendship stand the test?
Hi Robin! Thanks for being a part of LGBTQMonth! You’ve got quite the collection of novels already. What was the one you had the most fun writing?
I’ve loved writing all of my books, but the one that has really stood out is Death in the Spotlight. I’m so proud of the twist in it, and I loved writing about Daisy’s coming out!
I loved that one too! As a children’s author, what do you think of the importance of LGBTQ representation in your work is?
I think it’s crucial. I had no frame of reference from my childhood about what a children’s book with LGBTQ+ characters in it might even look like, so for a long time I felt nervous about including queer characters in my own writing. But I’ve always been clear that I wanted to reflect the world I see around me in my books, and that means queer as well as straight characters. I’ve had the most unbelievable response to my LGBTQ+ characters, especially Daisy – I regularly get emails from young fans telling me how much it means to see someone like them in a book. What you read as a child influences you for the rest of your life, and I hope I’ve done a bit to show young queer people that they belong – both in books and in the real world!
That’s such a rewarding experience! Clearly there’s a lot of research necessary for the Murder Most Unladylike series and it really pays off. Do you enjoy doing research or is it more of a pain?
I love it! So much so that I over-research, and often only a little of what I know finds its way into my books – but I think it’s important that fiction should feel as real as possible.
Haha, amazing! What’s your own writing process like? How long does it take you to write a book?
I spend quite a while planning my stories – everything has to be set before I begin in terms of the crime. I then write a first draft in about three months, as fast as I can, and then spend about six more months editing and polishing with the help of my editor and my agent. Each book goes through about six drafts – it’s important to say that what makes it onto shelves is not that first draft!
So valid! Who are some of your favourite LGBTQ characters in books you’ve read or TV/Film you’ve watched?
It’s so exciting to be able to give a long list in response to this – LGBTQ+ media representation has transformed almost completely since my childhood. I’m currently watching the final season of She-Ra, and I’m particularly fond of Scorpia. The David/Patrick love story on Schitt’s Creek is wonderful, and I recently finished Pose, a show that felt like perfection from start to finish – I love all of the characters, but maybe Pray Tell is my favourite. In terms of books, Red and Blue from This is How You Lose the Time War, my very favourite novel from last year. Dean Atta’s The Black Flamingo and Nothing Ever Happens Here by Sarah Hagger-Holt are also wonderful – there are some brilliant children’s and YA books publishing at the moment.
Your house is on fire and you could only save one book. What would it be?
Logically, my signed copy of Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. Realistically, I couldn’t choose!
Do you like to listen to music when you’re writing or do you prefer silence?
Silence when I’m writing, music while I’m editing. I get so lost in the world of my story I don’t need any more noise!
Daisy and Hazel are two amazing female detectives cherished by a lot of people. What do you make of the massive response Murder Most Unladylike has gotten?
It’s overwhelming! I never thought it would happen – it makes me so proud to know that readers love my characters as much as I do.
As they should! What is your biggest piece of advice for budding writers/detectives?
Pay attention to the world! Interesting stories are everywhere if you’re ready to pick them up.
Yess, great advice! And finally, Death Sets Sail, the final book in the MMU series (I’m not crying, I promise) is coming in August. What can we expect from Daisy and Hazel’s last hurrah?
Romance for both girls – they both get their first kisses! Oh, and their most dangerous mystery ever. This is the book I’ve been waiting years to write, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it!
Thank you so much for being part of #LGBTQMonth, Robin!!! I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I can’t wait for the release of the final MMU book! We were delighted to have you!
Death Sets Sail is published later this year in August, and I urge you all to go pre-order it—from your local indie bookstore if they have it, or anywhere else!